Understanding Your Body:

"Not-So-Fun" Facts to Know and Tell

Ever feel like you're the only one who's not feeling her best? Check out these medical facts and join the club. Then grab your Midol and take control of your life each month.

Did you know...

  • Period pain is very common: about 3 out of 4 girls and women have pain of varying intensity at some point during their period. In 1 out of 10 women, the pain is so bad that they are unable to carry out their usual daily activities on 1 to 3 days every month.
  • About 15 out of 20 girls and women who menstruate have PMS symptoms to some extent every now and again. About 1 out of 20 women regularly have severe symptoms that strongly affect their everyday lives.
  • Many women have painful periods. Sometimes, the pain makes it difficult to perform normal household, job, or school-related activities for a few days during each menstrual cycle. Painful menstruation is the leading cause of lost time from school and work among women in their teens and 20s.
  • After a teen has been menstruating for a few years, her menstrual cycle typically becomes more regular. For most women, a normal menstrual cycle ranges from 21 to 35 days. However, up to 14% of women have irregular menstrual cycles or excessively heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Menstrual acne, a flare-up of blemishes every month that coincides with menstruation, is fairly common. According to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, 63% of acne-prone women experience these premenstrual flares. They usually strike about seven to 10 days before the onset of a woman's period and then subside as soon as bleeding begins.
  • Many women in their reproductive years experience transient physical and emotional changes around the time of their period. In fact, at least 75% of women with regular menstrual cycles report unpleasant physical or psychological symptoms pre-menstrually. For the majority of women, these symptoms can be disabling and may cause significant disruption in their lives.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome affecting 3-8% of women in their reproductive years. In contrast to PMS, PMDD is characterized by more significant premenstrual mood disturbance. The most common symptom is irritability; however, many women also report depressed mood, anxiety or mood swings. These symptoms emerge one to two weeks preceding menstruation and resolve completely with the onset of menstruation. By definition, this mood disturbance results in marked social or occupational impairment, with its most prominent effects in interpersonal functioning.